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Minggu, 05 September 2021

Taliban battle for Panjshir as US warns of Afghanistan civil war - NEWS.com.au

3D map of the remote Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan, which held out for a decade against the Soviet Union's occupation and also the Taliban's first rule from 1996-2001.

Taliban fighters advanced deep into the last holdout province of Panjshir Sunday, as the top US general warned Afghanistan faces a wider civil war that would offer fertile ground for a resurgence of terrorism.

Following their lightning-fast rout of Afghanistan's army last month -- and celebrations Monday when the last US troops flew out after 20 years of war -- the Taliban are seeking to crush resistance forces defending the mountainous Panjshir Valley.

But top US General Mark Milley questioned whether they can consolidate power as they seek to shift from a guerrilla force to government.

"That will then in turn lead to conditions that could, in fact, lead to a reconstitution of Al-Qaeda or a growth of ISIS (Islamic State group)," he told Fox News Saturday.

Afghanistan's new rulers have pledged to be more accommodating than during their first stint in power, which also came after years of conflict -- first the Soviet invasion of 1979, and then a bloody civil war.

However, this time women will be allowed to attend university as long as classes are segregated by sex or at least divided by a curtain, the Taliban's education authority said in a lengthy document issued on Sunday. 

Dozens of women had protested for a second day in Kabul on Saturday to demand the right to work and inclusion in the government, with social media clips showing Taliban fighters attempting to disperse the demonstrators.

Taliban official Bilal Karimi on Sunday reported heavy clashes in Panjshir, and while resistance fighters insist they have the Islamists at bay, analysts warned they are struggling.

"Many people have fled from local villages in recent days," Emergency said in a statement Saturday, adding it was continuing to provide medical services and treating a "small number of wounded".

- 'Humanitarian crisis' -

Both sides claim to have inflicted heavy losses on the other.

Roggio noted that the Taliban seized "a massive amount of weapons" after the US withdrawal and the collapse of the army.

Saleh in a statement spoke of a "large-scale humanitarian crisis", with thousands "displaced by the Taliban onslaught".

- Looming uncertainty -

Washington has said it will maintain an "over-the-horizon" capability to strike against any threats to its security in Afghanistan.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due Monday in Qatar, a key player in the Afghan saga and the location of the Taliban's political office, though he is not expected to meet with the militants.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, meanwhile, has called for an end to violence in Afghanistan over fears of a new civil war now that the Taliban has seized power.

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2021-09-05 19:28:14Z
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